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Josef Myslivecek

born: 1737-03-09
died: 1781-02-04
birthplace: Praha
diedplace: Rim

the greatest Czech composer of 18th century. Son of a miller from Prague (tenant of two famous mills situated on both sides of Charles Bridge: Sova's Mills at Kampa and Novotny Footbridge at New Town - known as Myslivecek's till now - which serves as Museum of B.Smetana today). He got the basic musical education at Jesuit College, later he studied mathematics, statics and hydraulics. In 1761 he became the flour-milling master but he did not take over father's mills; he rather abandoned them in favour of his brother, devoted himself fully to music. He studied composition under F. Benda and F. Habermann, later under J.Seger. After the success of first works (6 "sinfonies" named after first 6 months of the year) he left to Italy to study opera composition under G.B.Pescetti in Venice. He wrote his first opera in 1764 (it did not pass on till today). He got a success and wrote another opera for Naples called "Il Belleferonte" in 1767 which meant definitive success and fame all over the country. He was called "Il divino Boemo" (Divine Czech); he is also known as Giuseppe Venatorini which is Italian translation of his name. After the success in Naples he is at the top of his career. He got a glory, lot of money and was writing his best works. In about 1770 he met W.A.Mozart in Bologna; they maintained friendly relations since that time. Mozart often expressed his admiration of Myslivecek's works and that was one of the reasons why he took a fancy to Prague, Myslivecek's bithplace. In 1777 he had a accident in a carriage on his way to Munich. He got an infection in his face wounds; he spent a year in attempts to heal the wounds but finally his face got badly distorted. In 1779 he wrote one more opera (Armida) which unlike the previous ones was in a grim mood. After bad success he quit musical life and two years later he died in poorness and oblivion.

  • about 30 operas (Hypermestra 1769, Demetrius 1773, Eio 1775, Olympiade 1778 and more)
  • orchestral compositions (tens of "sinfonias", 6 ouvertures)
  • a lot of concerts (mainly for violin and orchestra, also for piano or harpsichord, violoncello and orchestra, flute and orchestra)
  • chamber compositions (trio sonatas, divertimentos, string quartets and quintets, octets for wind instruments, piano sonatas)
  • 10 oratorios (Passio Jesu Christi, Abramo ed Isacco and more)
  • church compositions (antifones, spiritual arias, rogations, offertories, 2 masses)


CV's online (Czech only)
Mala encyklopedie hudby (book by dr. Jar. Smolka; &kolektiv, Supraphon 1983)
Kniha o hudbe (book by V.Holzknecht a kol., Orbis 1964)


Divertimento F dur (MP3) (I. Allegro), rec. by Independent Chamber Orchestra Boemia, cond. Hynek Farkac, CD Czech classics, GZ Lodenice 1992


Last update 2012-07-03